pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Glory Revealed

Reading: Isaiah 40: 1-11

Verse 2: “Speak tenderly… proclaim that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for”.

Isaiah writes to a nation that experienced defeat, death, and exile because they continued living in sin. These things were the consequences for refusing to listen to the prophets, for refusing to repent, for refusing to turn away from evil and back to God. At times we too will choose to live in our sin. In these seasons we will ignore the whispers of the Holy Spirit, the pleas of loved ones and friends, and even our own awareness of doing wrong. Sin can be powerful. The choice to live in our sin can have consequences for us, just as they did for the Israelites. We may lose a dear friend or even a marriage. We may find ourselves looking for a new job or place to live. We may find ourselves imprisoned or in another form of exile. Just as the nation of Israel did, we will usually come to understand how and why we ended up where we ended up.

When Israel was defeated, many died, many were taken away into exile. Not all of these were living in sin. Innocents were caught up in the “hard service” for the nation’s sins. In our current time I believe many see the world this way. This pandemic has settled in and brought unwanted consequences. While God does not cause evil or death – God is good and holy and just and loving – these things are a part of our world. People feel imprisoned by the pandemic. People are suffering illness and loss. People are feeling the emotional weight of isolation, depression, loneliness, grief…

Just as the word of God brought hope to the exiles, knowing that the time to return to normal was just ahead, so too can the word of God bring hope to those in our neighborhoods and communities. As followers of Jesus Christ we have a great opportunity to minister to those in need. Through our words, through our presence, or through our actions we can bring hope to people’s lives. As we share these gifts with others they will come to know the one who cares for each of us as a shepherd cares for the flock. As they do come to know Jesus, they will find that he walks with them, easing their burdens, taking their pains and griefs, giving them hope. In and through us his glory can be revealed. May it be so.

Prayer: Good shepherd, may I labor with and for you today. Lead and guide me to be light and love in your name. May these things shine brightly in and through me. Amen.


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Promise = Hope

Reading: Isaiah 65: 21-25

In the new kingdom, all will be blessed.  The works of the peoples’ hands will bring enjoyment.  The homes they build and the crops they plant will be enjoyed.  Nothing will be done in vain.  Even before their prayers are spoken, God will hear and answer them.  Life will be wonderful when the earth is renewed by God.  The renewing will affect all things.  Even the wolf and the lamb will lie down together!  There will be absolute peace and all will be blessed by God Almighty.  We long for the day!

The promise and hope in these words from Isaiah were just what the Israelites needed to hear.  Times were very bleak and it was an easy time to begin to lose faith in God.  Nothing in life seemed to be favoring the chosen people.  While the people knew their situation was the consequence of their sins, at some point we all say, “How long”?

We too have uttered this question to God.  Like the Israelites, we may have wandered from our faith and there is a consequence that we must endure for our choices.  Often we too get to the point of longing to return to ‘normal’ in our lives.  At other times in life, our time of suffering is not caused by us.  We can be adversely affected by another’s sin or choices.  We can also be affected by the circumstances of life – a diagnosis or sudden loss comes our way and we suffer and experience pain.  In all of these scenarios, we long to move past and to come to terms with our hurt or loss, but it can be so hard.

The promise of a new heaven and earth cannot remove the hurt or pain or suffering.  But it can give us a new sense of hope.  In this promise we can find hope and strength and comfort and maybe even a little healing.  One day all will be restored.  May we cling to this hope.  The promise is true!


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God’s Will

Reading: Amos 7: 7-9

Visions are not something we are too accustomed to today.  But in the Old Testament and some in the New Testament, visions were one of God’s methods of communication with His people.  Visions often came through prophets in the Old Testament and through the apostles in the New Testament.  In today’s reading the prophet Amos is receiving a vision from God.  As was the case with many of the visions, here God is giving Amos the vision to try and get Israel back in alignment with God.  Visions, this one included, also often lay out the consequences of continuing to live outside of a right relationship with God.

In these verses God tells Amos that He will “set a plumb line among my people Israel”.  Plumb lines are used to keep a wall true or straight while you are building it.  It is a way to make sure all is right and correct.  Here God is using the metaphor as a means of judgment as He goes on to say, “I will spare them no longer” and then describes their downfall.

Today we might not receive many visions, but for a follower of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit works much the same way.  The Holy Spirit speaks into our lives, prompting us to reach out here, to offer of ourselves there, not to do that or go there.  The still, small voice keeps us in alignment with God’s ways and purposes for our lives.  And much like a vision, the Spirit also warns us of the dangers of temptation and sin while also reminding us of the consequences of choosing to live outside of a right relationship with God.

Thousands of years later God’s desires for His people has not changed.  God desires for each of us “to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).  Each day, as we seek God’s will and purposes for our lives, may we seek these things as we live out our faith wherever God sends us.


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To the Throne

Sometimes in life we make poor choices and we sin.  Sometimes there are consequences we must face and deal with and live with here in this life.  When we sin there are always consequences to our relationship with God.  But we do not have to live with these.  Some do choose to but none of us have to.

Just prior in Hebrews we are reminded that we will have to give account of ourselves to God.  While this is true, in today’s reading we find our true hope.  We are encouraged to hold fast to our faith in times of suffering and pain because we have access to the great high priest, Jesus Christ.  We are invited to approach His throne boldly and without fear.

Do not think that what you have done is too much for Him to bear.  Do not think it is too depraved to reveal before Christ.  His love is greater than any sin we can commit.  In Hebrews we are reminded that Jesus, our great high priest, was tempted in every way.  He has been right up to that line where we cross into sin.  He has felt every temptation we feel.  Even though Jesus was without sin, He can relate to us in our sin and temptation.

We can boldly approach the throne with confidence because the one who sits on the throne walked where we walk and faced what we face.  At that throne we can lay our burdens down and confess our sins and sufferings and find nothing but mercy and receive nothing but grace.  At His throne we are washed clean and made new.  Go often and always for His love never ends and His mercies are made new every morning.

Scripture reference: Hebrews 4: 14-16